Chindits' were the very first people rescued by helicopter

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by Hebridean Chindit, Mar 21, 2011.

  1. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review... Patron

    A bit of trivia for you... Something my father mentioned in his memoirs, "If only helicopters had been invented..." this was in a section where he discussed the works for the airfield at "Blackpool"...

    I thought it an odd comment and not being a fan of the rotary-wing variants I did a bit of research; I knew they had been about but not where during WWII, so I have now had to update for my work as the links have grown again... I first looked this up nearly a decade back...

    The first rescue by a helicopter took place in the CBI on 25th April 1944, before "Blackpool" was in place - A Sikorsky R4 - the type could only carry one passenger and they took four trips to rescue the wounded British troops (presumed as Chindits) and USAAF pilot from near Mawlu...

    a link to the story...

    The First Helicopter Combat Rescue
  2. Cobber

    Cobber Senior Member

    I find this topic very interesting. Are their many more situations where helicopters were used in combat type environments during WW2?
    What was the basic idea that the people building them in the 1930's 1940's had for the use of helicopters in a war situation?
    During his time in Korea my old dad was air medivaced by a Bell 47 Sioux chopper, he was lying in the external stretcher. He reckoned it was a special experience (it probably saved his leg) and that he felt secure through out the entire flight. I think it was his one and only trip by helicopter.
  3. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

  4. elyncho

    elyncho Member

    The US 5318th Provisional Air Unit (later the Air Commando) was given a high priority by the Americans as a way of providing support to the British in Burma after the US President was moved by hearing Wingate talk about the heavy losses his men suffered and the frequent need to leave the sick and wounded behind. He became determined to make sure that the Chindits would, in effect, have their own air force for resupply and for medical support and 'Project 9' (the new air force) was given authority to steal anyone and anything it needed from the USAAF. It was formally approved in September 1943 and quickly acquired a wide range of aircraft including six Sikorsky YR-4 helicopters which it used, as you say, for casualty evacuation.

    The British Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment began testing the Sikorsky YR-6 in March 1945 and six army Captains from 'C' Flight, 657 Air Observation Squadron were brought in to fly them.

    There are reports of the Germans using the FA 223 helicopter to rescue downed airmen in the closing stages of the war on the Eastern Front but I've not been able to confirm that.

    All very underpowered aircraft so not much use for big ops. A couple of Apaches would have worked wonders!

  5. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    As Tim rightly says 1st Air Commando had 5/6 helicopters at their disposal by early 1944. They were used firstly in the Arakan to pick up casualties etc.

    I think they became far too difficult to maintain in that theatre of war and so never really took off (sorry no pun intended) as a means of rescue aircraft.
  6. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review... Patron

    Cheers for the link back to that older article, Bodston... the fun of being a newbie at a site such as this will always be, "Has it been covered before...?" By the very nature of research and the WWW, going back over old pages you discover that some things disappear, some get updated, some sit dormant... sometimes it is knowing how to search...

    The article on Carter Harmon (the pilot in question) had grown quite significantly; the "heli history" still shows the reference to the RAF operating the R4...

    Things we lose over time, unless we are careful...

    I had and image and a link saved on an old PC when we lost the HDD - the very grainy picture puportedly showed one of the Sunderlands taking off from Indawgyi - link and picture lost...

    My interest here is, who were the rescued parties...? - Both pilots are identified but none of the casualties...

    Another difficulty is researching a victor's defeat; winners tend to gloss over defeats once they've won...
  7. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

  8. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review... Patron

    Nice find me Ol' China... :D

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